Through an online virtual conference Rest Ministries plans to give people who suffering silently with chronic illness hope and tools despite their pain.
San Diego, CA -- (ReleaseWire) -- 09/14/2009 -- Nearly 1 in 2 people in the USA live with a chronic illness and about 96% of these illnesses are invisible.* Rest Ministries, Inc., the largest Christian organization that serves the chronically ill, and an affiliate of Joni Eareckson Tada’s International Disability Ministry, is encouraging those with illness, friends, family, caregivers, and churches to get involved in their annual outreach, National Invisible Chronic Illness Awareness Week, September 14-20, 2009.
In addition to churches having outreach events for those with chronic conditions, Rest Ministries organizes a 5-day free virtual conference with 20 seminars that can be attended via one’s computer and computer speakers. Seminars are on a variety of topics including marriage, parenting, starting a business, how to apply for disability and more—all when you live with a chronic illness. The seminars are held via Blog Talk Radio and listeners can call in through their phone line with questions.
Well known Christian authors who will be presenting include:
• Bill and Pam Farrel, best-selling authors; The Marriage Code (Harvest House, 2009)
• Naomi Kingery, author of Sugar Free Me (Xulon Press, 2008)
• Dena Dyer, author of Mothers of the Bible (Barbour Publishing, 2009)
• Georgia Shaffer, author of How Not to Date a Loser (Harvest House, 2008)
• Joanna Faillace, Certified Biblical Health Coach an author of Super-Naturally Healthy Families Cookbook Devotional
• Lisa Copen, author of Beyond Casseroles: 505 Ways to Encourage a Chronically Ill Friend (Rest Publishers, 2008)
• Maureen Pratt, author of Peace in the Storm: Meditations on Chronic Pain & Illness (Galilee Trade, 2005)
• Jennifer Saake, author of Hannah’s Hope: Seeking God's Heart in the Midst of Infertility, Miscarriage and Adoption Loss (NavPress, 2005)
• Marcia Ramsland, author of Simplify Your Life (Thomas Nelson, 2004)
• Jolene Philo, author of A Different Dream for My Child (Discovery House Publishers 2009)
Lisa Copen, 40, founder of Rest Ministries says, “Many Christians may have a solid walk with the Lord, but the emotional rollercoaster of a chronic illness and its constant progression can leave them feeling alone and misunderstood. They are hanging on by a thread and being told they look fine and should just make themselves get up and go to church only adds to the isolation and bitterness of others ‘not getting it.’ The emotional scars can be harder to cope with than the actual illness.”
Copen, who has lived with rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia since the age of twenty-four, ended up in the hospital for a week last fall fighting off the flesh eating bacteria in an ankle wound. We never know what the next day will hold,” she explains. “It is so important that there is good communication between those who are ill and their loved ones, as well as the church body.”
Did Copen’s circle of friends and church come through for her? “It was an enlightening experience,” she says. “Although I teach others to ask for help, I found out how difficult it is. And then when I did ask for help, I experienced what it is like when you fall through the cracks and everyone thinks someone else is providing both the practical support as well as emotional encouragement.”
Rest Ministries extends their outreach about invisible illness awareness to churches, providing materials to start up HopeKeepers groups, books, cards, tracts, etc. About 96% of those with illness may appear perfectly healthy on Sunday mornings, but may struggle to get out of bed the remainder of the week.
Ken Chambers, Director of Church Relations at Joni and Friends International Disability Center, says, “It is vital that Christians understand the emotional and spiritual trials of those with invisible disabilities, as well as those with visible disabilities. I encourage church leaders to take advantage of the wealth of resources at Rest Ministries and to participate in the National Invisible Chronic Illness Awareness Week, which they sponsor annually.”
One can get involved by joining the hundreds of bloggers who are writing about illness in the next few days, by joining the cause on Facebook, and most especially, by tuning in for the conference. All seminars will also be recorded and archived.
See http;//www.invisibleillness.com for more information or http://www.restministries.org for the sponsor of this event, Rest Ministries.
*Source: Chronic Care in America, U.S. Census Bureau